Thursday, October 13, 2011


Some people listen with their ears. Sounds are relayed via waves, crashing over their eardrums. Other listen with minds, analyzing and reviewing what is heard. Still more listen with their hearts, carefully considering messages and their meanings.

I think I use all of these channels to listen, but I also hear with my soul. Sometimes a piece of music is so utterly beautiful it mists my eyes even if I’m not consciously aware of the song until then. At the appropriate volume, Florence Welch sings directly to my being. The volume at which this takes place varies, and some days I can’t turn her up high enough. This is singing along as loud as you can, top down, driving on the freeway on a Friday afternoon with perfect hair, good.

What else has this ability? I recently read The Unbearable Lightness of Being, in which Milan Kundera describes Tereza, a character who felt so disconnected from her soul that she imagined it buried deep within her bowels. As she grows older, she is able to command her soul “to the deck of her body” on rare occasion. It is only when she calls her soul forth that she recognizes the face reflected in the mirror; otherwise she could look for hours at herself and not see anything familiar. I have always felt like this myself, as if the outside of my body looked foreign and distorted.

If the soul lies deep within some people – and I certainly hope it doesn’t live in my bowels – why are there times when we can readily access it and others when we search for life inside our own being? Perhaps the soul lives in waves too.

In physics, resonance is when the frequency of a sound, electromagnetic, or mechanical wave nears the natural frequency of the object in its path, this wave’s amplitude increases. This sounds like Tereza’s calling forth of her soul, she found a rhythm in life that resounded and soul escaped. Sometimes this is fantastic, when you are in tune with your life and able to enjoy it (and yourself) honestly.
Sometimes resonance can be disastrous. The Tacoma Narrows Bridge taught us that amplification is destructive. So maybe it’s good that I can only turn up the radio so loud on certain songs? And surely other things resonate for me too; one that comes to mind is the spicy-sweet Paloma margarita at Urban Taco which tastes better than any combo of grapefruit and tequila I could ever try to make.

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